VIDEO: 10 Tips for Surviving the RV DUMP STATION

Posted In: RV Lifestyle, Video

Here’s a long overdue video about that least glamorous of glamping topics: the venerable dump station.

The process of emptying an RV’s water tanks is quite simple. You’ve got a couple of dirty water tanks. Your job is to cleanly transfer that dirty water into the ground receptacle with no spillage. To accomplish this task, you are armed with a hose.

You connect one end of the hose to your RV. The other end is connected to the sewer receptacle (typically just a hole in the ground). You pull open a couple of water release valves, and WHOOOOOSH all of that dirty water goes rushing into the void.

What could go wrong?

Not much. Thankfully, it’s very rare that anything goes wrong.

I can foresee a couple of possible problems. The first cause would be pilot error. The second would be mechanical failure.

First, let’s address pilot error.

You could make a careless mistake. For example, you could connect the hose to your rig and pull open a drain valve without securing the other end of said hose into the sewer receptacle.

Yes, I actually made this mistake once. It was a memorable occasion for all the wrong reasons. I ended up dumping some dirty water (the dirtiest kind) onto the ground next to the dump station.

Fortunately, I caught my mistake before too much water was spilled. Most dump stations include a fresh water hose that allows you to easily wash away spillage. If something like this happens, it’s kind of gross, but it’s not the end of the world. Note that it will never happen to you if you simply take your time and make sure that your hose is properly connected where it needs to be. Don’t get in a hurry. Haste makes waste spill on the ground.

Another possible pilot error type of risk: you fail to properly close the drain valves after emptying the water. If you make this mistake, well, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise the next time you go to empty your tanks. I have never made this mistake.

So, what about mechanical failure? There is a slim risk that your sewer hose could become disconnected from the sewer connection coupling. In other words, the hose itself could loosen from the plastic coupling that secures the hose to your rig. If this happens while dirty water is flowing through the hose, well, suddenly that dirty water is flowing onto the ground.

I’ve had this mechanical failure happen once, and it occurred before I had opened any drain valve – so no dirty water was spilled on the ground. In my case, the hose slipped off the coupling because it was stretched too far. As you travel around the country, you will quickly discover that there’s no standardization whatsoever with regard to dump stations. Sometimes you’ll encounter some weird situations in which the sewer receptacle is too far from your rig. My advice? Of course you need to position your rig as close as reasonably possible to the sewer receptacle. You also want gravity to work in your favor, so park uphill whenever possible.

And if your hose is stretched tight? Well, you better make damn sure it is not only secure to your rig, but the hose and coupling are secure too. If there’s a risk of the hose and coupling being pulled apart, I’d advise you take steps to prevent that from happening. You might just hold it securely with your gloved hands.

I’m belaboring the downside risks associated with this task. In reality, dump station accidents are very rare. To my knowledge, no one has ever been killed. The typical worst case scenario involves dumping dirty water on the ground. (Okay, I have heard one true story about a poor sap who was lying on the ground inspecting his rig when he opened a black water valve. It spilled from his rig and he took it right to the face. Don’t let that happen to you.)

My goal here is to assuage your fears. Dumping the water tanks is an intrinsic part of RV life. It’s like many endeavors in life. If you have a baby, you may end up changing a diaper or two. If you get a pet, you may end up handing a pooper scooper. It’s just not that big a deal, and the upside of having a child or pet or RV is worth the occasional downside of these tasks.

Other tips?

Gloves are advisable. (See links below.)

Always empty black water first. Then you can flush the hose with grey water.

Once complete, it’s not a bad practice to rinse down your hose with fresh water on a regular basis.

Take your time, but don’t take forever. The actual process of emptying the tanks should occupy but a few minutes.


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